Tanraj Sohal had just turned five when his parents taught him the rules of chess.
Something clicked, because he was soon not only beating them at their own game, in just a few months, he snagged the Canadian title for his age group.
“I didn’t know much about chess at all in Grade 1,” he recalls.
This year, at the age of 16, he won the Canadian Chess Championship medal in Ottawa May 19-20. It was his eighth win in his age group – he came in third three times in 11 years of competition (and that’s as checkered as his past gets).
The Fleetwood Park Secondary student, who just finished Grade 11, is currently the top player in B.C. in any age group.
With is rising notoriety, is there pressure? Only in that some of his teachers would be happy if he paid more attention to his school work, but a Grade Point Average a whisker under 4.0 will do.
Sohal considers himself a universal player on the chessboard, not too aggressive, not too defensive.
Most wins against strong players are decided late in the game, he says. There’s no way to predict a checkmate early on.
He says playing adults is a bit easier than kids because adults are less imaginative in their game play.
Computers also have their advantages: Record-keeping, as well as no complaints in staying up to play at 1 a.m. every night.
What does Sohal’s future look like?
A career path in medicine like his father is an option – but he’s getting no pressure to do that, he says.
Or he could also carry on with chess, aiming for a Grandmaster title (there’s tough competition overseas).
And of course, no matter which direction he takes in life, there’s always opportunity to build a board the size of a Persian rug in his living room, using his bevy of trophies as chess pieces.
Your move, Tanraj.